Some 270,000 businesses sued the BWC saying the bureau had improperly given discounted premiums to employers that joined group insurance plans and charged higher rates to those that did not. The BWC has defended its actions.
"We continue to believe BWC acted within its authority in establishing rates and that the plaintiffs' claims are without merit," said Steve Buehrer, administrator/CEO of BWC. "The support we have received from business and labor is appreciated and shows us that we are right in fighting these allegations on behalf of Ohio's employers and injured workers."
The latest action comes on the heels of BWC's announcement that it was sending $1 billion in rebates to more than 200,000 employers, reducing rates, and increasing safety grant funding.
"BWC has worked diligently and successfully over the last few years to provide better care and service for all Ohio workers and employers," Buehrer said. "Yet we are forced to continue to defend against litigation that selectively benefits a subset of employers and their attorneys who are more interested in helping themselves to the State Insurance Fund than the stability of a system that protects Ohio's employers and injured workers."
Filing the amicus brief were the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio National Federation of Independent Business, and the Ohio AFL-CIO. They said the trial court did not exercise proper restraint in its decision. They also noted what they said were other areas of concern in the decision.
"First, the groups assert the trial court ignored the law, which unequivocally establishes that BWC alone is responsible for setting workers' comp premium rates for Ohio employers," according to a joint statement. "Instead, the trial court took it upon itself to arbitrarily establish rates."
Also, they said the decision would mean the court system rather than the BWC would arbitrate and adjudicate matters relating to premiums. They said that "undercuts" the group rating programs.
"The state's workers' comp insurance fund is money held in trust for present and future injured workers of Ohio," said Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO. "To use legal action to raid the fund deprives workers of the compensation they deserve so they will be well-cared for in the future."
By Nancy Grover
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 26, 2013
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